Badlands Land Snatch Could BK City of Las Vegas
(Chuck Muth) – The heated controversy over the fate of the now-shuttered Badlands Golf Course in northwest Las Vegas isn’t actually about the golf course.
It’s about property rights.
In a nutshell, the Badlands golf course opened in 1996 on land that was not part of the adjacent high-end residential development called Queensridge – a fact specifically stated in sales agreements that residents signed when they bought their homes there.
In fact, click here to see a map of the area included in the CC&R which specifically shows that the Badlands Golf Course was “NOT A PART” of the Queensridge planned community and was “SUBJECT TO DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS.”
As has been the fate of many a golf course in recent years – thanks to a dwindling customer base and rising costs – the operation began bleeding red ink a few years ago.
So the owners of the land sold the property to a corporation owned by developer Yohan Lowie in 2015.
Lowie has been a successful developer of land in the area for many years – including the high-end Queensridge Towers condo complex and the Tivoli Village retail center across the street.
Lowie is also a resident of Queensridge and has built many of the homes in the community.
Now, faced with the undeniable fact that the Badlands Golf Club was a money loser and would never be able to make a profit, Mr. Lowie closed the facility and submitted plans to the City of Las Vegas to use the land for additional residential homes.
Including huge, 5-acre parcels for “mini-McMansions” upon which only one acre could be used for housing and the other four acres for lush, open-air landscaping.
Alas, a handful of neighbors – including some with luxury homes on the defunct golf course itself – pitched a fit and raised an enormous political and PR stink.
Understandably, they wanted the golf course to remain. However, they were unwilling to pay for it.
So they used their deep political clout and influence and went to the City of Las Vegas in an effort block Mr. Lowie’s development plans, claiming the golf course land couldn’t be used for anything other than a golf course or some other open-space use.
There’s only one problem:
That land has ALWAYS been zoned for residential property development.
Since then, the city has put up one roadblock after another in an effort to stymie Mr. Lowie’s ability to develop the land in a manner consistent with how the land was zoned.
As such, the city’s efforts to block Mr. Lowie from using HIS land in the manner it’s already approved for constitutes a government “taking” of his property. A “taking” without just compensation.
And he’s lost millions of dollars because of the delays.
And that’s where Las Vegas taxpayers come in.
The brouhaha, naturally, found its way into the court system.
And most observers – including many city officials – believe Mr. Lowie will ultimately win. It is, after all, HIS land and he wants to use it in a manner that’s consistent with how HIS land is zoned.
For residential development, not as a golf course or an open-space park.
And if, as expected, Mr. Lowie prevails, Las Vegas taxpayers are going to be on the hook for the millions of dollars in damages Mr. Lowie has suffered due to the city’s foot-dragging and obstruction.
Money the city simply does not have.
Money that certainly could be used for better purposes, such as roads, schools, crime prevention and social services.
Many Las Vegas residents think this issue only affects a few wealthy homeowners in a luxury gated community. So they’ve tuned out from the controversy.
But if they’re not careful, once the legal smoke clears every Las Vegas taxpayer could be left holding the bag.
And either everyone’s taxes are going to go sky-high to compensate Mr. Lowie for the city’s mishandling of the situation – or the city could go the way of Detroit and end up in bankruptcy.
So they better start paying attention now.
Mr. Muth is president of CitizenOutreach.org, a limited-government grassroots advocacy organization, and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com. He blogs at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.